As we heard back at the end of August, free to play of a sorts is coming to EVE Online this November in the form of Alpha Clones.
For those two lazy to click the link, if your account is not subscribed to the game you will still be able to log into New Eden, but your characters will be in the Alpha Clone state, which limits them to 5 million skill points.
You still have all your skill points, but you need to be subscribed to use any beyond the 5 million cap, which the game promises to remind you of at every turn.
And, on top of that, just because you have a lot of skill points when subscribed does not mean that when transition to the Alpha Clone state that you will have the full five million to play with, as those skills must come from a specific set of skills dictated by your choice of race. Yes, that completely meaningless, primarily cosmetic choice of old can now come back to haunt you.
There is a post up over at The Nosy Gamer looking at the four race/faction choices.
Like a lot of other people, I started thinking about what I would do with a potentially unlimited supply of effectively disposable 5 million SP free pilots. But even in a potentially bottomless well, there is always a first bucket of water drawn, and so I decided to start in on my first Alpha Clone in advance, so I reactivated an account.
I know, Alpha Clones are going to be free, why pay to make one?
Well, among other restrictions, Alpha Clones are going to train at half the speed of subscribed accounts, if I caught that detail correctly. Given that it takes my main about 7 months to train 10 million skill points… his learning rate boosted slightly by spending down time in a clone with +4 implants when possible… a completely free 5 million skill point clone account looks to be about a 9 month operation by my guess. Literally the human gestation period for a fully formed Alpha Clone.
Besides which, I already had a character, a May 2009 model named Reynaldo Fabulous (pre-dates Jay Amazingness by 4 years, and holds our old corp… anybody want to buy a 2007 corp so you can tell people how “old school” you are?), with more than 14 million SP and a set of +3 implants plugged in. That also made my faction choice for me, since he was born Gallante back in 2009. I figured I would have this Alpha Clone thing set in a week or two, so I subscribed him (hours before the magic date) to see what he had going on.
He had a Trisatan and a Quafe Skin for it, which I wasn’t sure how he obtained, but was out in the boonies, so I flew him off to a local NPC station that stocked skill books.
Once there I started comparing what he had trained in the past and what skills he would need to grab to get to that 5 million Gallente skill point Alpha perfection. (The list of skills is in the dev blog, or in spreadsheet form linked from this post on Reddit.)
And herein lays the eternal struggle in EVE Online. It isn’t so much about having skill points as it is having the right skill points. Even my main character, 164 million skill points into training, still bumps up against the “hrmm, I guess I never trained that” scenario now and again.
So as I started going down the list, comparing what my potential Alpha Clone had trained with what he would be allowed to use as an Alpha Clone.. well, let the new skill training begin!
He wasn’t totally bereft of usable skills. But there also wasn’t a lot of overlap between the Alpha Clone world and what he could use. Gallente Industrial was good, but he had that to level 5 when an Alpha Clone can only have level 1. He also had Mining Barges and Exhumers trained up to 5, which are of no use at all, akin to his ability fly a Drake and shoot heavy missiles. But he didn’t have Gallente Cruiser injected.
So skills were injected and training commenced, though I also bumped into the 50 skill limit in the training queue. And now, of course, every time I log in… or launch EVE Mon… I am greeted by a list of skills that have trained.
I probably do not need every skill on the list, but now there is a certain OCD aspect to this, the idea of having a “perfect” Alpha Clone. And I am still not sure what I will even do with him once the skill queue is complete, but I think he should be done in time for the introduction of Alpha Clones. We’ll see what happens then.